Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is the pressure to succeed in work or trying to make it to Hollywood and Professional Sports destroying family values and taking the place of religion

The topic of God, faith, and family values are issues that are, and always will be enormous topics of conversation and controversy.  I am not a very religious person, but I do have faith in something.  I do believe that there is some ‘thing’ guiding our lives along its current path.  I do enjoy the theology and origins behind each religion, and I take bits and pieces from each that I find helpful when it comes to my own set of morals and ethics.  I also had an excellent upbringing about manners and how people should be treated.

I bring this up, because I have often heard the argument, that the amount of “Godlessness” and our current way of life in this country may be foreshadowing our fall from power.  I actually believe that our way of life may be hurting us more than we realize. 

When I think of religion, I think of a code of ethics and rules and standards of being a good person.  I also think of families who practice together, and come together over a similar cause and reason.  I think of people going to Churches, Mosques, and Temples together, as families.  

This is where I think our culture today is hurting us.  Our society has moved away from family values and more towards the drive for success, we are a capitalist country and it appears to onlookers that we almost always look out for ourselves, before others.  In our drive for money and power, we often need to overwork or even move away from loved ones after college in order to make those dreams a reality.  People are working 40-60 hours a week, possibly more for single parents. 

Is this obsession with work and money stunting ethical and social growth among kids today?  This is a tough argument, because I feel the need to support the family is very important and the way our economy is right now means that a parent must be absent in order to put food on the table, and a roof over the heads of their children, so it is a double edged sword.  

Do they A: leave the kids to work extra 40-60 hours a week, in order to provide yourself and them a life with extra money and possibly leave them open to gangs, peer pressures and too much television and inactivity/lack of exercise, and hope you are not too tired to check their school work and try to connect with them on a personal level.

Or B: work enough to pay bills, and scrape by and hope that you are doing the right thing by at least giving them a person to look up too, even though you and the kids aren’t living the life you had pictured.

Without a constant driving force in children’s lives, like a parent or a religion to follow, how are they learning the basic human principles of treating people with respect and learning human nature's "Natural Laws."  (American Defense League definition)

There is less time being spent with adults, and more time being spent with peers at the same age and mental maturity, there is no one, or anything saying “don’t do that, or say that,” because their friends do not know any better either, so actions are going unpunished and unchecked.  Kids with no where to turn for role models, are looking to gangs for guidance and money, or they are looking at the television saying, “I want to be like that person and live like this and throw money around.”  So instead of spending more time on studies, kids are spending more time on athletics or changing themselves physically and mentally, hoping to be like the people they see on television. 

For a tiny percentage it works out, but where are all of the kids going to go after failing to make millions in the entertainment industry, they have no skill sets for the real world now, and some will be able to turn back to families, but others get lost in the obsession and end up in jail or fall into the drug lifestyle and never recover. 

If this way of life continues, I believe that the outsourcing of jobs and the fall of our economy will continue, unless we can find a way to revitalize our education systems and then provide more money for youth mentoring programs, and provide more tools to children and teens on every economic level.  

I’m not taking sides that a religion needs to be enforced daily, it is a “Free Country,” and you may practice how you like, but there are those out there who blame everything on not having a religion for guidance.  On the other side of the fence, there are those who are anti-religion, their reasoning is the chaos and the amount of pain, suffering and death that occurs during religious conflicts around the world.  Some also believe that religion is corruptive and greedy, which is safe to say, because in the past, major religions and major clergy have taken advantage of the poorer masses before, but there still needs to be something, or some kind of structure for kids to follow, or it could end in complete chaos.

What would you say is causing the breakdown of “Family Values” after hearing these other arguments?

Is it the American obsession with money and fame and the drive to succeed even if it means abandoning loved ones?  Or is it the lack of some sort of faith or religion and an absence of any thoughts of sinning?  Or is it a lack of a common goal, or a glue that holds or brings a society together.  Lastly is it the absence of parents and a strict upbringing full of lessons about life, taught to help and guide children and teens along a path of ethics, good will and mutual respect for everyone? 

Whether it be religious or monetarily related or even something family oriented, I believe that something needs to change in the way that this generation of children are being raised, because right now, they are being raised by television networks with celebrities and a money driven society backing it up, that say it is ok to act this way.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

High School Newspaper Interview

A few weeks ago, I answered some interview questions from, Brooke Eades, a writer for the High School paper, The Kelly Kall Student Newspaper.  The story will be out in May I believe so when it is finished I will post it as well.  For now I have taken one Q & A, to post that I thought was a appropriate since summer is fast approaching and school will be out which means Seniors are going to College and Juniors will be taking over as School leaders.  

What advice do you give high schoolers?

The world is a much bigger and more diverse place than the place you are living at right now, whether it is a small town, big city, with or without your parents. Life is going to change dramatically and the best advice I can give you is, treat people with respect.  Treat people how you would like to be treated.  I know kids are tired of hearing it, but I was in school too, and now I'm 27, and the lesson is; High School and Junior High do not last forever, and who you are now, will change once you enter into the real world.  Your friends now, may not be there for you later in life; but maybe those people that weren’t your close friends, but you were polite and respectful to, they may just rescue you one day.  Those people that you thought “odd or different or gay,” grow up too and one day they may be your friend, neighbor, co-worker or boss.  Enter the world with an open mind, if you are confused ask people questions.  There is no dumb question!  When my brother died, people made it awkward, because they wanted to ask questions, but were afraid of offending me.  I found it more offensive that they would rather be ignorant than ask an open-minded question.   Learn about new cultures and religions, learn about the LGBT(Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transgender) community, you may be surprised by what you learn and even more surprised to find out that we all have common interests and may form some amazing friendships with people from all walks of life.  Don't take life for granted, because after High School life moves a lot faster than you'd like, so make everyday a learning opportunity.   We are all people, just trying to live our lives and trying to find our own love and happiness.  Under no circumstance should anyone have to live in fear.  Hate has no place in this world.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Media's Influence On the LGBT Movement

Earlier this week, I did my first “real” interview for the Washington Blade, for a profile article by Katherine Volin, see link:

At his brother’s ‘Place’

It got us thinking; does the media push away or pull in straight people who are not yet decided on the political views of the LGBTQ community?

I would like to try to open a discussion about both the positive and negative effects the media has on pushing the subject of LGBTQ rights. 

I would have to say to it has had a positive effect on straight people.  I think the media doest an excellent job of getting the facts out to the public while trying not to persuade people one way or another. 

I can, however, see how it might be a little redundant for some to be reading the same stories over and over though, but at least it is there for people to see everyday.  If does not appear daily, then it will be moved to the back burner and ignored until another tragedy occurs.  I believe it needs to be in the news very frequently in order to keep the facts fresh in people’s minds.  In the past, the LGBT stories were printed less frequently, which hurt.  It made the progress very slow, because people kept forgetting the facts, so in order to keep up to date they would have to re-read past articles, and writers would have to summarize the past events, in order to start a new story just to refresh the reader’s memory. 

Some people may think that LGBT stories are too numerous on a weekly or daily basis, but it is very important to keep it this way, because if people are annoyed with the story and tell others they are annoyed, then at least they are talking about the subject!  As long as people are talking about it, then it is 100% progress compared to years past when no one would even acknowledge the topic of Hate Crimes, Gay Marriage and LGBTQ rights in general. 

I have a biased opinion of course, because of my strong feelings and closeness to the subject, but I would like to hear from others on this topic, and on any topic, so please send any topics and questions to, or you can post comments on any of my blogs and I will try to address the comments and questions that I feel can start dialogues and discussions.  I would like to get discussions started where I can take opposing sides; I am all about trying to open people’s minds to every possible side of an argument.  Being tolerant also means, being able to open your mind and see all sides of an argument. 

It is called, Empathy: Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.  (Yahoo! Dictionary).

Even if you do not agree with someone else’s point of view, it needs to be understood where people are coming from and why, it can only add to your debate.  

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Erase Hate Campaign

Over the weekend, we had our annual Bear To Make a Difference Dinner and Gala.  During the event we unveiled our new campaign.  “Raise Yourself to the power of 10, ‘A Campaign to Erase Hate’.”  We are all very excited for what this may bring and do for the movement.  The campaign stresses what you can do in your everyday life to help erase and replace hate.  It can be as simple as not using the word “Hate,” or asking people not use slurs and tell hurtful jokes.  Let your voice be heard, stand up for what you believe in and vote for those people who believe that hate should have no place in today’s society.

Why has it taken so long for a campaign like this to surface?  It’s a shame that certain horrible events had to happen for this message to become heard, and it’s still not over, people are still being hurt by hate!  Why is hate so prevalent?  These people that are filled with hate take so much time to make sure people know it, how do they have time to do other things?  I have seen first hand how much effort it takes and you would think that there must be something better to do with their life than make sure other people are miserable.  Why does society allow them to put fear into other people?  Wasn’t this country founded on acceptance?  Didn’t people come here to escape religious and personal persecution?  Why, 500 years later, does it seem like it is just getting worse?  The parents of today’s generation need to teach their children to play nicely, cause no one should have to live their life in fear of being beaten or harassed on a daily basis to make someone else feel better about themselves. 

More people need to express the importance of diversity and the freedom to live their life, while following the American Dream and their Pursuit of Happiness.  Is it so hard to treat people how you would like to be treated?  Is it so hard to open a door for someone who has their hands full, is it so hard to smile and wave at your neighbors.  Doesn’t it make you feel good to do something nice for a stranger without being asked or expecting something in return? 

I’m a big believer in Karma, and I try to do something nice for people on a daily basis.  It doesn’t have to be an extravagant gesture, just something to make another person happy, thankful and leaves him or her, wanting to help someone else the way you helped out.  So as a society let’s not “try,” let’s “Do,” Erase Hate together.  Do something nice for another person without being asked or told and without expecting a reward for your effort.  Do it for your own personal Karma bank, and eventually something spectacular will happen to you.  You never know when a family member or someone close to you will be affected by Hate, so let’s Erase it for good!